Feature

Les montagnes and die Berge: Equally loved

The week's news at a glance.

Switzerland

Jean-Marie Vodoz
24 heures

The Swiss may be a diverse bunch, said Jean-Marie Vodoz in Geneva’s 24 heures, but we all have one thing in common: a passion for mountains. Much has been made recently of the “potato curtain” that divides French speakers (who fry their frites) from German speakers (who roast their Rösti). Right now, the Roman Museum in Lausanne has a whole exhibit documenting such differences and showing that they go back 7,000 years, when ethnically distinct tribes lived here side by side. Yet the French Swiss and the German Swiss are still, at bottom, more Swiss than French or German. A case in point: Years ago, I was in Iceland for a conference with a few dozen diplomats and journalists from several countries. We were traveling in a convoy of cars from one town to the next and stopped in a hilly area to stretch our legs. “Suddenly, all the other nationalities began laughing.” Every single Swiss person—French and German and Italian alike—had climbed to the top of the largest hill, by different routes, and without consulting one another. “Just give us a few days,” said our ranking diplomat, “and we’ll build you a ski lift.” The Swiss, you see, are “their own tribe.”

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